Cabo Wabo Cantina Upgrades with Martin Audio WPC

Cabo San Lucas, MX––Sammy Hagar’s legendary Cabo Wabo Cantina recently underwent an audio upgrade with a Martin Audio Wavefront Precision Compact system just in time for the Red Rocker’s ‘Red ‘Till I’m Dead – Sammy Hagar’s Rock-N-Roll Birthday Bash.’

Celebrating Sammy’s 70th birthday, the annual fan pilgrimage was filmed for a movie simulcast in 100 U.S. theaters with a list of guest stars that included Toby Keith, James Hetfield, Dave Grohl, Jimmy Chesney, Eddie Money, Chad Kroger, Bob Weir, Jerry Cantrell and Alex Gonzalez of Mana.

Martin Audio’s Wavefront Precision line array introduces a scalable approach to resolution and control of coverage functioning with external, dedicated multi-channel amplifiers in a uniquely flexible, upgradeable, and financially accessible system. The more cabinets with dedicated amplifier channels, the higher the resolution and scale of coverage control achievable.

The Wavefront system for Cabo Wabo was designed and commissioned by Jim Risgin of OSA International, Inc. working in collaboration with local contractors and Martin Audio Distributor Audio Acoustica. Initially founded in 1990, Cabo Wabo needed a new PA system after 27 years, especially given the Birthday Bash was coming up in the near future.

According to Jim, who installed and tuned the system, ‘Martin Audio WPC was chosen because it was the proper form factor, right size and had a good aesthetic look for the club. They needed a substantial PA, so we flew six WPC boxes a side with four SX218 subs mounted in the front face of the stage. The monitor complement includes four Martin Audio XE500s and four XE300s.’

The XE Series monitors feature Martin Audio’s unique Coaxial Differential Dispersion technology and are designed as a complete system that maximizes the capability of the monitor while ensuring both engineer and artist will experience the same high level of consistent performance from an XE monitor anywhere in the world.

‘The system will be used 365 days a year and we fully anticipate the reliability to be great,’ Jim explains. ‘There’s a grand total of nine iKON iK42 amps installed for system control and DSP tuning is all done inside the amps. We used 2-box per channel resolution which worked out well, the coverage is spot on. All and all, the system did what we wanted it to do and more.’

Asked about reaction to the WPC system’s performance, Jim responds: ‘Everyone is really happy with it. The club manager and Sammy’s partner Jorge Viana was ecstatic about the way it sounded and how well it worked for the venue. The house sound guys were very impressed by WPC’s performance and capabilities and they’re looking forward to mixing on it every day.’

On first encountering the XE Series monitors Jim recalls, ‘Sammy walked up to the wedges, sang a phrase, looked over at Jim Jorgensen, his monitor engineer, and said, ‘I’ve never heard myself like that before.’ Then he looked at me and asked, ‘are you the guy who’s responsible for this PA?’ before thanking me and saying, ‘First time I’ve ever heard myself in here.’

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“Cabo Wabo Cantina Upgrades with Martin Audio WPC” by Martin Audio Ltd.

OSA Supports the 35th America’s Cup as Official Audio & Video Contractor

Providing audiences large-screen HD LED technology and sound clarity throughout the America’s Cup Event Village

This summer fans from around the world amassed to the Cross Island of Bermuda’s Royal Naval Dockyard, the nine-acre home to America’s Cup Village, to watch the greatest race on water and enjoy world-class entertainment from artists of the Caribbean. The America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) turned to OSA International, Inc. to be the audio, video and staging contractor in order to add spectacular sound and visual attraction for the enjoyment of fans.

At the heart of America’s Cup Village, the Main Stage played host to entertainment and sailors throughout the Cup. OSA installed the stage, audio system and two large LED walls, left and right of the stage, for an impressive display of more than 300 Absen X5 panels.

“Our client wanted a clean look as opposed to a typical truss-heavy structure, so vertical pylons were sunk into the ground and the LED wall hung from 38′ long horizontal I-beams which were then dressed with a scenic border,” explained OSA Project Manager Deb Miller. “This made the stage look amazing.”

Keeping with the clean appearance, ACEA required that all cabling be hidden. “The load-in was scheduled for only one week, so we flew in two months prior to run cable underground,” stated Miller. Six inch diameter conduits at over 330′ in total length ran from the Main Stage to front of house, and then to the grandstands and the LED wall by the seawall.
For the village-wide audio, OSA used Dante to provide audio at both the seawall and the grandstands. “This allowed us to digitally transport audio to the amp location for sportscaster inputs and IFB outputs, and to the seawall PA for host mics and the awards stage,” explained OSA Engineer Brian Daily.

Along the seawall, there was public access to the grandstands and several hospitality viewing areas. Over 450′ in length, OSA custom-manufactured twelve poles and mounted three speaker cabinets per pole, arrayed in different directions to throw the sound long and narrow, maximizing coverage over fewer locations along this public promenade.

OSA installed three more large-screen LED displays – one Absen C7 wall at the grandstands and two Absen X5 walls, one outside of the Mouton Cadet hospitality tent and one on the deck of Club AC, the elite hospitality viewing area provided by the ACEA. The foundation below the grandstand LED wall was poured during set-up, and had to cure prior to hanging the LED wall. The deck at the Club AC ended four feet above the edge of the seawall. This LED wall was the only one mounted on truss. Mega blocks had to be lowered between joists to the sea level with hand chain hoists and attached to solid ground. Then the deck planking was cut around the vertical truss legs.

Additionally, OSA managed and supplied the audio and video village-wide, including distributing the broadcast feeds to systems installed in the viewing grandstands, at the main entrance and in several hospitality and sponsored tents throughout the Village.

The project did not come without its challenges and surprises. During an event like the America’s Cup where the race times are dependent on the wind, the ACEA had to adjust the entertainment schedule accordingly to keep fans in the Village. This kept the OSA crew on their toes constantly. At the Main Stage, FOH Mix Engineer Paul Deuschle described, “Every day was a new challenge. We would come in some mornings and not know what bands were in that day’s line-up. We just had to adapt to the schedule changes.”

Deuschle also stated there were additional challenges due to the event’s island location. “The key was to tell as many artists what we had available so they knew prior to their arrival. We filled four sea containers with A/V gear and tools, but there were many last-minute schedule changes. Back home, if a band rider included a different console, we would truck it in or sub-rent locally. Being on an island with limited local resources, that was not always an option.”

Despite these various challenges, the event was a huge success that was packed with the local flavors of Bermudian entertainment. The opening ceremonies included various acts highlighting the local culture of Bermuda including 4-Forty-1, the official band of the 35th America’s Cup, Gene Steede, the H&H Gombeys, the Gombey Evolution, the “Proud to be Bermudian” cast, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, Cindy Smith, John Seymour, Liv MisLu, Desmond “Rivah” Smith, Live Wire, John Seymour, Aimee Bento and Quinn Outerbridge. Following the opening ceremonies, fans enjoyed daily Main Stage entertainment including performances by Grammy Award winning entertainers and nominees Wyclef Jean, NE-YO, and Jamaican reggae band Third World, as well as many more talented artists. Miller closes, “The event was a challenge, but this is what we do – we roll with the changes and turn out spectacular events. We had an enthusiastic production team and the local crews were a delight to work with.”

ACEA Production Manager Josh Carney remarked, “I cannot really put into words how challenging this production really was, and OSA helped make it the success that it was. The level of professionalism and knowledge – and not just industry knowledge – that the OSA team demonstrated was far above and beyond what anyone expected from an A/V provider. OSA knocked it out of the park! Once the event started, I did not have to worry about the AV, as I knew we were in good hands.”

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View pictures of the Opening Ceremonies of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda here.
Photo credit: ©Two & Quarter Photography

About OSA International, Inc.
With offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Nashville, OSA International, Inc. creates remarkable live events of every type and scale using cutting-edge engineering, audio systems, LED and video technology that is second-to-none in quality, implementation and execution. For more information, visit

OSA Overcomes RF Challenges at Chicago’s Navy Pier with Shure ULX-D® Wireless

Shure Installation Solves Challenges for One of the Densest RF Environments in the U.S.

Navy Pier in Chicago is one of the most important civic landmarks in the United States and one of the top-visited leisure and cultural destinations in the world. Since its reopening in 1995, the Pier has welcomed more than 180 million guests, including a record-breaking 9.3 million guests in 2016. Originally designed for shipping and recreational purposes, the facility has evolved into a premiere entertainment and exposition center.

In July 2017, Navy Pier completed construction of the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns, a renovated space that further exemplifies the Pier’s ongoing commitment to offer guests a one-of-a-kind experience to enjoy outdoor movies, live music, theater, public art, festivals, and more. Set in Chicago, widely recognized as one of the densest RF environments in the U.S., the Pier faced a major hurdle in finding a way to overcome the RF challenges that are common with these types of wireless installations. Therefore, it brought in audio and video contractor, OSA International, Inc. Already familiar with the spectrum challenges that the project faced, OSA’s Brandon Gardner and his team installed a wireless system from Shure.

The team elected to install eight channels of Shure ULX-D® Digital Wireless, along with six Beta 58 handheld transmitters and ten ULX-D belt packs. Since the grand opening, the ULX-D wireless system has provided exceptionally efficient RF performance, networked control, Dante™ digital audio, and AES-256 encryption. With roughly ten venues on the Pier competing for wireless spectrum space, there was a great deal of coordination needed among the venues, and the team had the ability to create group channel assignments with the ULX-D Digital Wireless system. The Pier was impressed by the capabilities of ULX-D Digital Wireless because the system does not further disrupt the wireless environment already in place.

“Navy Pier brings in millions of people every year, and with the addition of the new Polk Bros Performance Lawns, the Pier was severely in need of an audio system that would not only provide flawless audio, but wouldn’t interfere with the other venues competing for space,” said Gardner. “Since the installation of Shure’s ULX-D and other microphones, the Pier has never sounded better.”

By opting for the ULX-D wireless system, Gardner and his team were provided with flawless audio through extremely efficient RF performance, networked control, reliability, and ease of installation, to name a few benefits. The team at Navy Pier is pleased with the wireless system and other Shure microphones that have been put into place for this new venue, and expects to continue to rely on OSA and Shure for future audio projects.

To learn more about OSA International, Inc., visit To learn more about Navy Pier, visit For more information about Shure, go to

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View pictures of the Opening Night of the Polk Bros Performance Lawns at Navy Pier here.
Photo credit: ©Elliot Mandel Photography

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“OSA Overcomes RF Challenges at Chicago’s Navy Pier with Shure ULX-D® Wireless” by Shure Incorporated

MLA Unites EDM Lovers and the Neighborhood at Moonrise Festival

MHA Audio of Hagerstown, MD recently deployed Martin Audio MLA systems across four stages of Moonrise Festival in Baltimore, Maryland to tackle challenges of noise leakage into surrounding neighborhoods, while still maintaining high sound levels demanded by artist riders and the expectant festival crowd.

Moonrise Festival is an annual two-day electronic dance music (EDM) festival held at Pimlico Race Course and has been successfully running since 2014 with an average of 60,000 in attendance per year, putting Baltimore on the EDM map and attracting some of the biggest DJs in the world. However, the popularity of the festival and its genre of music present unique audio challenges given the venue’s close proximity to surrounding neighborhoods.

For the 2017 festival, the event’s organizers were tasked with developing a plan to limit noise nuisance to the residential communities around Pimlico Race Course, while still maintaining the quality that the festival has come to be known for.

The festival operates under three strict sound level criteria: levels at the perimeter must not exceed 85dB (C LAeq); levels in residential areas must conform to the Baltimore city code of 5dB (C LAeq) above ambient noise level; and finally, sound levels must be capable of 105dB (C) inside the venue in order to meet artist rider requirements. In order to monitor sound levels, twelve SPL meters were set up, eight within the concourse and four within key residential zones.

EDM music festivals require the most subsonic frequencies and among the highest sound levels of any live event. In order to provide the proper customer experience inside the venue, while at the same time limiting sound levels outside the venue as much as possible, a new approach to the sound system design and site layout was implemented this year.
Organizers approached Mike Scarfe, owner of MHA Audio, as they were aware of the success of MLA at other festival sites and he was confident of achieving the necessary results: “I was contacted back in May and was sent the site plans, noise restrictions and where the majority of the sound complaints had been generated the year before.

“Based upon my previous experience and discussions with the Martin Audio factory in England, I was confident that system designs primarily combining MLA multi-cellular speaker arrays with an MLX cardioid subwoofer package would meet all the requirements.”

A cardioid subwoofer configuration was deployed with some subtle variation on all four stages. In a typical subwoofer configuration bass frequencies are omnidirectional. No matter where the subwoofers are placed, the lowest sounds will always go towards the concert perimeter as much as they would go towards the audience. In an MLX cardioid subwoofer configuration, multiple subwoofers use careful spacing and digital signal processing to phase cancel frequencies to the sides and behind the speakers, allowing more control. Because of this capability, all four stages were able to be aimed away from the neighborhoods of Mt. Washington and Cylburn for this year’s festival.

Multi-cellular arrays differ from normal line arrays by combining many smaller speaker elements and advanced digital algorithms to provide custom control and even coverage exactly where desired, and virtually eliminate unwanted coverage in sensitive areas.

As Scarfe comments, “MLA is unique. It’s still the only system around that can optimize multiple sonic goals and truly deliver the sound across the audience required for any space, while mitigating sound leakage. Utilizing a multi-cellular array eliminates all but the loudest and lowest frequencies from leaving the concert area.”

Within the Pimlico Race Course, Moonrise festival featured four stages, two main stages – Stellar and Lunar – as well as the 300ft long Solar Dance Tent and Celestial Garden Stage.

The equipment list was extensive: Stellar comprised two main hangs of 12 MLA each side with 36 MLX subwoofers; Lunar stage featured 24 MLA and 24 MLX; 20 MLA Compact and 24 MLX were on Solar; and, finally, 20 W8LC line array elements and 24 WS218X subwoofers on Celestial.

To support the event, MHA called upon fellow MLA network partners, OSA International, Inc., who helped supply and manage the Stellar stage. Jim Risgin, Vice President of OSA, commented, “Martin Audio’s MLA system is the best choice for controlling sound in live events, especially in a situation like Moonrise that needs to decouple the festival from its surroundings. Festivals can lend a positive impact to local economies, but for them to be viable everyone from festival-goers to residents and from the planners to the city and local businesses need to be catered for appropriately and MLA solves the conundrum when dealing with sound leakage.”

The festival weekend itself saw thousands of mostly millennials descend upon the racetrack’s storied infield to watch more than 70 producers, DJs and musicians across the four stages. In its five-year history, 2017 was arguably Moonrise’s strongest line-up yet, with headliners like Kaskade, Afrojack, Zed’s Dead, Excision and Pretty Lights Live with Rap acts including Lil Uzi Vert and Run the Jewels injecting some additional variety.

The success of the event and MLA system design was clear. The effect was a near omnipresent throb of rattle-the-ribcages low-end, peaking well above the required 105dB, with an ecstatic and knowledgeable crowd pulsating to the set lists. Meanwhile, off site limits were met and noise complaints were at an all-time low.

According to Audio Engineer, Matthew Bittman, who provided analysis reports for Baltimore City Council: “The result of the new system design and layout was in total compliance with all sound objectives and restrictions for the 2017 festival. At no time did the perimeter approach the 85dB (C LAeq) limit, nor did any neighborhoods register 5dB (C LAeq) above ambient readings from Friday, prior to the festival’s opening. In addition, most of the complaints from the Mt. Washington and Cylburn neighborhoods were eliminated, and no complaints from Mt. Sinai hospital were received this year.”

Summing up, Bittman said, “These successes can be attributed to the new sound system, SPL monitoring system, and the re-orientation of the stages this year. It’s my clear recommendation that for next year both cardioid subwoofer and multi-cellular array technology should be used in order to remain within legal compliance.”

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Photo credit: ©Anthony Washington

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“MLA Unites EDM Lovers and the Neighborhood at Moonrise Festival” by Martin Audio Ltd.

Martin Audio CDD Speaker

OSA Installs Martin Audio in Lagunitas Brewery

OSA International, Inc. recently deployed a Martin Audio CDD speaker system for the Tasting Tour at the Lagunitas Brewery in Chicago’s Douglas Park neighborhood in North Lawndale.

Founded in 1993 in the town of the same name, the Lagunitas Brewery is now located in Petaluma, Azusa, Seattle and Charleston, in addition to Chicago. The company is now one of the leading craft breweries in the country, and is known for its unique interpretations of traditional beer styles with humorous descriptions and stories on its packaging.

The Chicago brewery tour is a popular attraction in the city and OSA was recently called in to replace the original sound system for the walking tour. According to project manager Brandon Gardner, “the guided tour is on a catwalk––there are several levels to the facility, with the brewery and bottling plant on the ground floor and the catwalk above. The tour has four zones where the tour guide stops and explains the process for brewing, fermenting, bottling and canning the beer.

“Originally,” Brandon continues, “the system consisted of powered speakers that tended to clip, which caused complaints from visitors not being able to hear what the tour guide was saying, especially when groups were more than 100 people.

“So, a major concern was getting clarity from the front where the tour guide stands all the way to the back of the crowd. Plus, we had to control the sound going off the catwalk so that the tour would not disturb the people working below in the brewery and bottling facilities.”

To upgrade the system, Brandon opted for Martin Audio CDD10 10″ compact coaxial, differential dispersion speakers, one in each zone with two in the bottling and canning area to compensate for the additional noise coming from the floor. The speakers were mounted horizontally with the drivers rotated to achieve optimum coverage in that zone as well. A BSS digital controller was added at each zone so tour guides could adjust the volume locally.

Asked about his choice, Brandon responds, “The CDD speakers offer exceptional clarity especially in the high frequency range because of the coaxial drivers and differential dispersion technology. Plus, they offer the most consistent performance I’ve heard. That, and the form factor is well suited to a variety of mounting solutions.

“Our client is very happy with the CDD’s performance––he is excited about the speakers. Everyone on the tour can now hear clearly and there have been no noise complaints from below the catwalk. It’s win-win for everyone.”

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“OSA Installs Martin Audio in Lagunitas Brewery” by Martin Audio Ltd.

OSA Relies On Martin Audio Solution For Successive Navy Pier Events

OSA International recently had to produce back-to-back events for two clients who used Chicago’s venerable Navy Pier in very different ways. Fortunately, they had a Martin Audio MLA system to help them overcome a number of challenges.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago Designight 2016 had the venue for one night while the Gateway for Cancer Research Cures Gala 2016 was set for the following evening. Both of the events were completely different technically, and had to be strategically designed to provide both clients exactly what they were looking for.

As an architectural organization, AIA preferred to show less of the technical production elements and highlight the natural historic beauty of the venue. In contrast, the Cures Gala event required extensive lighting and projection trusses, including a flying stage over the audience area. With the tight schedule between events and limitations of the facility, all equipment had to be installed, tested, and stay throughout both events, which meant OSA had to make the equipment as inconspicuous as possible.

Michael Ravenhill and The Mandell Entertainment Group were Executive Producers for the 25th annual Gateway for Cancer Research 2016 Cures Gala with OSA as the Technical Producer and David Foster & Friends as entertainment including Peter Cetera, CeeLo Green, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sinbad, Michael Bolton and The Tenors.

With six semis and two 26-foot box trucks of audio, video, lighting and band gear, space was at a premium for the event. The ground level and audience space was packed with guest tables that only allowed enough room for audio consoles on the floor, while video, lighting, audio control and dimmer racks were on the balcony level with limited access.

The Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier is known as a challenging audio environment because of parabolic effects added by the domed ceiling, its reflective open steel structure, a polished cement floor and glass sides. A traditional bandshell that makes up the upstage wall multiplies the acoustical challenge as volume is added.

To overcome these issues, OSA removed the house audio and replaced it with 10 Martin Audio MLA cabinets a side, using the system’s pattern control to minimize the reflections and increase direct frequency response to the audience seating area, along with 12 specially tuned MLX subs for a balanced low-end response. Plexiglass was used wherever possible to shield direct sources such as drums while guitar amps were isolated into back rooms. The audio system also included two Studer Vista 5SR consoles for the band and a Soundcraft Vi1 for the business portion and videos.

The OSA crew for the event included Carmen Educate (Sound Designer and Entertainment Mixer) Michael Solomon (Production Manager), Joseph Burger and Tom Georgitsis (Technical Directors), Peter Wiejaczka (Production Mixer), Peter Brennan (Entertainment Monitor Engineer), Paul Educate (Communications and RF Technician), Orlando Calzada and Adam Rosenthal (System Technicians).

Asked about mixing FOH for the event, Carmen Educate says, “The David Foster & Friends show went into the Navy Pier Rotunda, and the acoustics in this venue are quite challenging to overcome. Because of this, it was critical to get the stage volume down to a minimum, which included minimizing the SPL from stage monitors, musical instruments, and amplifiers reflecting off of the bandshell.

“The mix experience is always stellar with the MLA system, and most importantly, our show is consistent sounding from arenas and large theaters, to exhibition halls, that are sometimes not ideal for sound clarity. It definitely drives like a super car, because you can feel every move you make at any speed, with precision. With MLA, I can achieve a better quality sound with less SPL and ear fatigue for the audience. My mix translates perfectly if I am running my show at 92dB or 105dB to accommodate for a certain audience or artist lineup.”

Summing up, Carmen concludes, “Mixing on the MLA system is always a distinct pleasure. It’s by far the most advanced and efficient PA being used in the live sound market today, when properly calculated and deployed. MLA has always impressed me with its final results, and consistently helps bring the audience into a great sounding studio environment that our artists and clients have come to expect.”

Photo credit: ©Bob & Dawn Davis Photography & Design

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“OSA Relies On Martin Audio Solution For Successive Navy Pier Events” by Martin Audio Ltd.

Technotrix Takes Control at Riot Fest with MLA

Chicago, IL––Returning to its new home in Douglas Park for the second year in a row, Riot Fest featured four stages of Martin Audio provided by Technotrix including the main Riot and Roots stages equipped with MLA.

The eclectic lineup for the 3-day, punk/ska/metal oriented festival included The Flaming Lips, Morrison, Ween, Julian Marley, Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, The Specials, Social Distortion, Nas, Deftones, Bad Religion, Rob Zombie, Bob Mould, The Original Misfits and more.

For the main stages, the Technotrix crew needed to provide exceptional front to back coverage for the audience area while cutting off coverage at different points during daylight and evening hours.

As Audio Manager Brent Bernhardt explains, ‘Festival management wanted us to have the PA throw different distances during the day. Zone 1 (Day Zone) was about 50ft. past front of house with coverage dying hard beyond that so they could draw fans into the stage area and not have them spread out all over the lawn. Early evening or Zone 2 was for direct support bands, and we’d open up MLA another 100 ft. Then Zone 3 would be for headliners in the evening and that was the system full on.

‘We needed to maintain levels at FOH of 104dB A-weighted and have these hard die offs happen segmentally without affecting the rock show up front. To do that, we used a combination of different adjustable deltas and Hard Avoid in the MLA control scheme to create the noise cancellation in specific zones during those times of the day. The good thing about MLA was that we could fearlessly deploy these presets without changing tonality, something you can’t do with other PAs.’

The actual setup for Riot and Roots stages included 11 MLA and 1 MLD a side with 18 MLX subs ground-stacked in front of the stage in a cardioid deployment of 6 stacks of 3 each evenly spaced 4 ft. apart to allow for camera platforms, cryogenics and other special effects.

In addition, each stage had Martin Audio LE2100 monitor wedges, 2 WS218X with W8LCs on top per side for sidefill subs and 2 WS218X subs with W8LCs on top per side for drum fills. OSA International, Inc., an MLA Network partner, provided supplementary Martin Audio equipment for the event.

To better coordinate the musical output and operation from both stages, each was facing and firing in the same direction with alternating bands every hour and a large barricade running up the middle of both audience areas that created a large compound with two FOH risers 50 ft. apart surrounded by VIP sections.

Asked about MLA’s quality of coverage, Brent responds, ‘When we were testing the system in the morning at full open settings for headliners, the festival’s Production Manager came all the way across the park to tell us, ‘I can hear everything clear as day, it sounds amazing!’

‘We also had very positive feedback about how easy it was to mix on the system and how pleased they were with the coverage front to back, which was great.’

Riot Fest Production Manager Grant Simmon adds, ‘The Riot and Roots stages required a variable coverage pattern facing forward and also needed tight control behind the stage due to its proximity to a residential neighborhood. There was also a hospital to the left of where the stages were pointing and we had no noise complaints or problems during the festival.

‘As a production manager of festivals I’m on site to get a feel for what’s going on at various times throughout the day with the different sound systems in the venue. I’ll often text the FOH system technicians directly and ask them to dial back the top half of the PA. But what I was able to do with MLA which was unreal is text Brent, walk out to a specific point in the field and the full sound of the PA would suddenly appear in that area, even with a crosswind of 25 miles per hour.

‘Ultimately, MLA should be the first choice when trying to achieve that kind of control and eliminate the deleterious impact of noise on the community, which was our no. 1 goal. That plus the system’s ability to move sound around while still using all of the power of the PA and its phase coherence in windy conditions. It’s just an excellent festival PA.

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“Technotrix Takes Control at Riot Fest with MLA” by Martin Audio Ltd.

Steely Dan

Steely Dan and Steve Winwood Tour with MLA

OSA International, Inc. of Chicago, Las Vegas and Nashville is again supporting Steely Dan on "The Dan Who Knew Too Much Tour" featuring special guest Steve Winwood with a Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker system.

The tour encompasses a variety of venues from amphitheaters to arenas which, given two iconic artists with different musical signatures and Steely Dan’s reputation for superior audio, places extra pressure on the OSA crew of Kevin Gillson (system engineer) and Werner Gerbracht (stage and PA tech) to excel in every kind of situation, no matter what challenges the weather including hail stones that caused audience evacuations at Red Rocks%emsp;and the acoustics of each venue hold in store.

In addition to those pressures, Kevin, the man who implements Steely Dan FOH Engineer Mark Dowdle’s vision for each show, is working with MLA for the first time with only certified training and limited exposure to the system and software. Even with these challenges, the crew has exceeded the expectations of both engineers and delivered exceptional and repeatable results for every show.

"I’ve worked with another system for many years," Kevin explains, "but was really impressed that even with the large amount of information that goes into the MLA box, the software is straightforward and easy to grasp quickly, which was a big key for this because I had to jump right out and start using it. Using this system from design to deployment has been a real eye opener on how well it can deliver the artist’s mix to the audience as well as take the problems of the room out of the equation."

In terms of a typical setup, the main configuration for sheds and arenas consists of 13 MLA and one MLD downfill per side, with nine MLA Compact a side for off hangs and four MLX subs a side either flown behind the MLA or ground-stacked depending on the venue and setup time.

Asked about MLA, Kevin responds,

"Overall, I was very impressed. How, with MLA, you can walk through the horizontal coverage and maintain the stereo image. You don’t have the hard definition between the right and left hang that you have with other systems––it’s seamless from side to side. I also like the Martin Audio crossover points where the vocal range hits a paper cone instead of a horn, which makes it much smoother, more natural and easier to listen to.

"MLA’s control is also helpful,"

adds Kevin.

"I can hard avoid 20 feet upstage from the stage edge, which makes the PA extremely quiet on stage for the artists. I can then control and extend the coverage for the first seats as far back as I need to and again use hard avoid on problem areas like a balcony edge or a shed roof that comes down in back of the pavilion, which has been very helpful in controlling room acoustics.

"With other systems’ subs, I would try to use cardioid setups but still had too much low end behind the cabinets. I have found that the MLX subs are so quiet in a standard configuration that Vern will occasionally ask me if they’re on. I’ve also had sound engineers in the audience who can’t believe we’re only running four subs a side and tell me how amazing they sound. The MLX subs are so musical and their tonality is just phenomenal."

Having succeeded with MLA on this tour after years of using other systems, Kevin has a special perspective at this point:

"There are a lot of PAs out there and they all do things differently. But working with MLA where the approach is phase coherence at the listener instead of at the box really makes sense in so many ways. One benefit with MLA versus other systems is the system’s stability with wind. With other systems, when we get wind off stage coming across the PA, the mix moves with it. With MLA, I can hear the mix and it doesn’t shift in a strong wind. That blew me away.

"Because I had such a short learning curve, I was concerned about having to deploy MLA for a band with Steely Dan’s reputation, but the system has performed phenomenally well for the tour and has been easy to deploy, no matter what type of venue, weather or circumstances."

James Towler, who’s worked with Steve Winwood for 19 years both as his FOH and recording engineer as well as managing Steve’s Wincraft Music Studios in Gloucestershire, is also using MLA for the first time.

According to James, his primary goal when mixing Steve live is "getting vocal presence out of the PA and making sure everyone can hear the Hammond."

"With the MLA, I haven’t had to touch the Graphic EQ on my board because of the way the system’s been performing. It really became apparent when we were in Dallas at the American Airlines Center that it was the best vocal presence I’ve ever gotten in a live situation and I’ve mixed that room a few times. I’m really pleased with the definition I’m getting from the PA."

As it turns out, James uses a different approach for mixing than Mark Dowdle, his counterpart with Steely Dan: "Mark and I have completely opposite setups, but we’re both very similar in terms of our philosophy, which is get the right microphones and mic pres, and you’re well on your way."

Focused on a "high quality front end," James’ setup starts with a DiGiCo S21 console into a Dante networking system that includes Millennia mic pres converted to Dante, Focusrite RedNet interfaces, a PreSonus RM32AI rackmount mixer "for sorting out his monitor feeds," and Shure PS 1000 in-ear monitors on a Digital Audio Livemix personal monitor system.

Commenting on the MLA system, James reports that "Steve is pleased with the way things are sounding. He’s happy because the rejection on the back side of the PA is fantastic so we don’t have to balance Front of House level with what the performer needs on stage.

"I have really enjoyed mixing on the MLA. When it comes up and we get the sweet spots, it sounds like I’m back in the studio. I can get that vocal presence right in my face and be both a live and studio engineer!"

For Steely Dan, highly esteemed veteran FOH engineer Mark Dowdle is again at the helm as Audio Supervisor and Mixer. With a list of credits that includes Elton John, Gloria Estefan, Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner and Jackson Browne to name a few, Mark has successfully met the challenge of mixing Steely Dan live for numerous tours over the last five years with the last three tours being on MLA with OSA.

When mixing the band, Mark’s goal is "to reproduce their music as accurately as possible, getting as close as I can to the standards they use in their recordings."

By mutual agreement with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, his process is 100% analog. Mark mixes on a Midas XL4 console with 57 channels including stereo modules. As mentioned, he believes "getting the microphones, mic pres and mic placement correct is the first order of business. I choose microphones best suited to the instruments and vocals rather than based on brand."

Mark is wholly responsible for achieving consistent sound from one venue to the next and tuning the system after it’s rigged, a process that requires instinct, judgment and flexibility. As he explains,

"When it comes to Steely Dan, all venues are somewhat challenging because they tend to take away from the concert experience instead of adding to it.

"So you have to take a good look at the situation and figure out ahead of time what will work the best in that scenario in terms of how to do the hang, how many boxes to use, how to aim the PA and tune it to the room. You put the system up and do the best you can to anticipate what the room’s going to do, and hopefully you’ll end up close to where you need to be.

"In terms of this system, MLA is very coherent with a lot of definition and separation. The extended high end has a lot to do with what happens in the middle of the frequency range and how that appears in the mix. I’m usually pretty consistent where I end up from one venue to the next.

"The network and software make it easier to identify setup issues and we’ve really had none to speak of,"

Mark concludes. "Fortunately, the system has been very dependable and steady so I haven’t had a real reason to rely on that. Overall, I’ve enjoyed using MLA. It’s given me everything I’ve needed from start to finish on this tour."

Martin Audio PA by OSA on Steely Dan Tour

The Dan Who Knew Too Much Tour

The Dan Who Knew Too Much Tour

Mark Dowdle mixing Steely Dan

Article Source

"Steely Dan and Steve Winwood Tour with MLA" by Martin Audio Ltd.

On Location at the Austin Summer X Games with Extreme Sports Sound Designer Ed Johnson

Ed Johnson’s life could be the envy of any extreme sports fan. As the audio designer for ESPN’s X Games for the last 16 years and, for nearly as long, having worked a year-round schedule of Red Bull live sports events, Ed has witnessed every conceivable sport stunt and thrives on providing great live sound to keep audiences hyped, engaged and informed across multiple events and venues.

The annual Summer X Games, with its heart-stopping skateboard, bicycle and motorcycle events, typically spends three years in a location before moving to another part of the country. June 2–5, 2016 was the swansong of the X Games’ Austin, Texas stint and proved to be the trickiest. Bouts of torrential rain, lightening, fierce winds and extreme heat (even for Texas) complicated the games for competitors, attendees and crews alike. But Ed has seen it all and simply takes it in stride.

We recently spoke with Ed about the four-day Austin adrenaline fest to find out how he preps for the games and operates during the events. “Most of my work is done prior to the event,” said Ed. “Maybe a month in advance, I’ve worked out the audio design, the layout of the various event sites and speaker plans, then changing them, as needed, due to budget constraints. Then I hand my paperwork over to On Stage Audio who has an excellent crew. They’ve been doing the show with me for about six years now, and we have a really great relationship.”

By the time Ed arrived in Austin, four days before the first event, his crew had been onsite for three days. “When I walked in, everything was in place up to a certain point. The first thing I always do is look over my documentation and confirm all of the gear and placement. Then our Live Event Producer, Sharon Bauer, Technical Director, Sheri Sternberg and I interface with the TV crew to make sure that our intercom systems are on track and that we’re all onboard with how we’re attacking the various venues, combining resources whenever possible,” he said.

“Next, I moved on to talking to Phil Reynolds [OSA], my lead networking expert, who built what I believe must be one of the largest plans to date. Given all the locations, we had a total of 12 fiber optic cables. The shortest was 1,200 feet and the longest was a mile and a half. All of them needed to work simultaneously between two console positions with video departments, announce packages and everything that goes with them, so that it could all be mixed through one or both consoles or split in half, as needed.”

One of Ed’s key considerations at every show is finding a workable balance between his output and the television microphones. “A major part of my job is to keep the crowd pumped by really capturing the action. But, the show also has to work for the television audience,” said Ed. “What we really have is a show inside of a show. Standing in my work area or sitting in the grandstand, you would hear my commentators, experts in the field, athletes who know all the scripts, and flips and back flips. Even if a contender improvises something, they know what it’s called. Those are the people who sit in my chairs and call our shows to the live event crowd.”

“If you’re watching the games on ESPN, you’ll hear the ambient of my show—the music and possibly ramblings of my announcers. But TV also has its own announcers, and overall, the challenge is always figuring out what TV can and can’t handle.

With up to four inches of rain falling in an hour, the Austin X Games’ most volatile obstacle turned out to be the weather and, for safety’s sake, the competition had to intermittently be put on hold. “We just had to deal with it. We had to figure out, minute by minute, what we could set up and what we couldn’t due to climate constraints. A lot of equipment needed to be repeatedly tarped and untarped because of the rain – and then lightening would move into the area, and we would have to stop and then recover.

“It was pretty dramatic at times, having to pour water out of the JBL VRX932 and then pick up the PRX712s that got blown over by the wind. What can you do? You put them up, see what works and do your best to replace whatever you have to with the extra gear you bring along. Overall, we did very well with maintaining the audio being heard. Everyone was notified of storm warnings and stuff like that. We had a plan, and it worked perfectly. The audience had a great time.”

After all these years with the best seats in the house, we wondered if Ed still feels the exhilaration of the athletic events.

“I’m very passionate about it,” he said. “When I was a kid, I would build little ramps and do jumps on my bicycle—coincidentally, that was in the back of the JBL factory, which was right near where I grew up in Northridge, California. To be an adult and make a living off of something that I did back then has been incredible. I never expected life to go in this direction and always enjoy watching what people bring to the sport—the new inventions and the new craziness that happens. It’s all part of a California lifestyle that I grew up in during the 70s that somehow just bloomed into my being part of this show. I’m very lucky; action sports have been really good to me.”

Along with his live sports work, Ed is also approaching his 18th year of mixing award show and key event sound for the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Many thanks to Ed Johnson for sharing his story. Have you worked at an extreme sports event or in severe weather? Share your story about the technical challenges you faced—and how you overcame them—in the comments.

Article Source

“On Location at the Austin Summer X Games with Extreme Sports Sound Designer Ed Johnson” by Marina Muhlfriedel

Broadcast-Quality Graphics at AirFest 2016

The Big Picture: Technology Reshaping Air Shows

OSA International, Inc., in partnership with Reality Check Systems and TrellisWare Technologies, helped to pilot an air show video wall system with broadcast-quality graphics featuring real-time footage, team biographies, aircraft information, social media, sponsor commercials, PSAs and more for the Tampa Bay AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base this past March. Focusing on the rewards and challenges of offering a big screen at an air show, Ric Peterson’s “The Big Picture: Technology Reshaping Air Shows” in Air Shows Magazine is an excellent read on the rewards and challenges of offering a big screen to audiences like that of the Tampa Bay AirFest, as well as reaching fans through smaller screens including mobile devices.

Peterson explains:

“Today’s air show has evolved well beyond pitching a lawn chair and ogling aircraft. Technology is reshaping our industry and, while large screens may be too expensive for most, there is a rapidly growing expectation that we offer them. Most other outdoor events already use at least one big screen along with the creative use of small screens such as smart phones, tablets and wearable devices. Some within our industry have designed apps while other performers and shows are taking advantage of Twitter and YouTube’s live-streaming options. They all have their rewards and challenges.

“I’ll start big.

“Nothing beats the impact of a big screen to create maximum impact, entertain your fans, increase advertising effectiveness, give promotions the extra punch and connect with your crowd..”

Media Solutions [powered by OSA] supplied two large 7.8mm LED walls at 40′ wide x 20′ tall, a 4K broadcast engineering system, LED distribution system, high-def cameras and more for the Tampa Bay AirFest. With RCS providing the graphics, OSA and RCS were able to create a mobile broadcast studio and the largest-scale live production in air show history. This level of scope typically requires a large outside broadcast truck.

Peterson quoted Angel Banchs, Director of Engineering for Media Solutions [powered by OSA] and technical coordinator for the video system at the Tampa Bay AirFest, several times throughout.

Banchs starts with the fan perspective:

“We had a bit of inclement weather on Saturday. The beauty of the system is that we were able to immediately put up a live weather map of the upcoming thunderstorm. We were able to show the audience that they should head to the first aid hangars for their safety. Nothing got the audience’s attention like seeing the coming band of thunderstorms in real time. This was one of the features that the security forces thought brought a tremendous level of safety to the AirFest.

“The system also allowed us to do a two-window style split on the screens. Because we had so many angles on the action, we were able to not only highlight the acts currently performing, but also the performers who were up next, keeping the audience engaged at all times.

“We provided three long lens cameras to get closer to the action. With our longest lens, we could clearly see right down to the edge of runway 22 at MacDill. We were able to keep an eye on the aircraft much further away than audience members. This kept the audiences engaged even when they could not see the aircraft on their own. With multiple angles on the action, we were able to get reactions from the crowd as well as performers when they returned from their performances. We were also able to grab shots of performers signing autographs and engaging with the crowd. Audiences loved the NASCAR style victory laps we were able to film in front of the air boss stand. We were also able to turn the camera on the audience and invite them into the show. We did several audience shots to let them know that they were an important part of the AirFest. Kids and parents loved seeing themselves up on the jumbo screens. Everyone loves to see kids engaged and in awe of the amazing performances happening right in front of them.”

OSA used TrellisWare Technologies, a San-Diego based military radio communications contractor, to assist in attaching the cameras to the flying aircraft and aerial performers. Multiple video feeds from as high as 13,000 feet were sent out over IP to a decoder in the broadcast control room, giving the attendees an intimate view of the action.

Banchs continues:

“TrellisWare Technologies were able to put cameras everywhere we wanted and more. The TrellisWare guys are usually down range helping Navy SEALs and Special Forces guys with their live field communications. They provide communications in critical situations. This is why we thought they would be a perfect fit for the AirFest. Jumbo LED screens were provided by OSA Media Solutions who set up two 40 x 20 foot LED screens to project all of the aforementioned action to our audience members. The screens are all weather and high definition. This allowed us to present our show in the highest quality possible. The screens are modular so they can be built in any size desired. The two screens were set up at either end of the show line to reach as many audience members as possible.”

Peterson continues to discuss both the rewards and challenges of offering both big screens like OSA provided at the Tampa Bay AirFest and little screens like smaller display monitors and apps. Air Shows Magazine is an award-winning publication for ICAS members. For more information, visit

About OSA

OSA International, Inc. consistently produces unforgettable live events of every type and scale. With over 30 years of experience, OSA utilizes the finest in project management, LED, video equipment and audio systems through our offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Nashville. Our engineering expertise and industry leading technologies combine with client visions to deliver spectacular results every time. From concept to completion, OSA is with you every step of the way. Learn more about us at

About RCS

Reality Check Systems (RCS) ignites on-air viewing experiences for some of the most-watched events events on television. With offices in Los Angeles and London, RCS partners with the world’s leading sports leagues, federations, networks and social media giants to fuel audience engagement through a customized fusion of dynamic graphics, real-time data and social media. To give shape to each client’s unique vision, RCS develops sophisticated graphics and production systems that can be seamlessly deployed in a wide array of professional environments.

About TrellisWare Technologies

TrellisWare Technologies is a global leader in highly advanced communication algorithms, waveforms, and communication systems that work when nothing else does. TrellisWare provides solutions to communication problems with products that are used in military and commercial settings worldwide. Learn more at